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Insider

Teams with the biggest holes to fill before spring

To whom will Dusty Baker turn to finish games in 2017? He doesn't know yet, and his Nationals will need an answer soon. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

We’re just a few short weeks away from the start of spring training, and for all the activity this winter, there are teams that still have major questions that need answers. Who has the biggest problems left to solve before pitchers and catchers report, and what are their potential fixes?

1. Washington Nationals

Problem: Finding a closer

Possible solutions: Signing free agent Greg Holland; trading for Dave Robertson (White Sox), Alex Colome (Rays), Ryan Madson (Athletics) or Trevor Rosenthal (Cardinals).

The Washington Nationals’ closers carousel continues. They’ve gone from Chad Cordero to Rafael Soriano to Tyler Clippard to Drew Storen to Jonathan Papelbon to Mark Melancon. So it’s no surprise that the Nationals opened this offseason with finding yet another closer as their biggest need.

They quickly jumped into the sweepstakes for the best relief aces on the free agent market, including Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Melancon. They bid on all three, including an $85 million offer to Jansen. But all three pitchers turned them down, and the Nationals find themselves still looking for a closer in late January.

They have several options in-house, including Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Koda Glover. But let’s be realistic: If the Nationals are going to earn a world championship for their 92-year-old owner, Ted Lerner, they’re going to need a better option. The best options out there for them are either free-agent Holland -- if they’re convinced he’ll be close to 100 percent a year after his Tommy John surgery -- or a trade with the White Sox for Robertson.

The problem in making a trade is that the Nationals already overpaid for Adam Eaton in terms of prospects. They should have expanded that deal to get Robertson, because now it’s almost impossible for them to land Robertson without including top prospect outfielder Victor Robles -- which they are not going to do. Going to the Rays to ask about Colome would be a solid alternative, but the Rays’ asking price makes that deal highly unlikely.